Life is meaningless in the ultimate sense. More than ever before people are living for the here and now. This idea relates to the words of the Habakkuk. In chapter 2, he says of his decadent nation, “Woe to him who heaps up what is not his own … and loads himself with pledges” (verse 6). It is so in today’s ‘have it now’ society in the western world – pledging payment sometime later and almost always forever in debt.
A question is asked in verse 13, “Behold, is it not from the LORD of hosts that people labour merely for fire, and nations weary themselves for nothing”. Once again God’s prophet reminds His people (and us the readers) that God is behind the scenes and knows all – and has the ultimate control. People labour “merely for fire” – to provide heat in time of cold, to cook their food, and light in the darkness. Few had any long term view of life, they had then and have now, no idea of God’s vision as stated in the very next verse. “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.” Any vision people have could be described as ‘tunnel vision’, unable to see the larger perspective. Job’s ‘friends’ suffered from this. As we read Peter’s first letter we note his reference to “when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared” (3:20). Noah and his sons laboured for 100 long years while around them was total godlessness (Genesis 6:5).
Peter sees their salvation in the ark, riding on the flood waters, as a type of baptism; he writes, “Baptism which corresponds to this (the flood), now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience …” (verse 21). Baptism cleanses the conscience and provides a new start, with a new vision ‘nothingness’ is swept away and replaced by the anticipation of participation in the glory that is coming.
In Peter’s time God’s judgements were looming over Israel, Jerusalem was doomed for rejecting the Messiah, and Peter warns, “The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded …” (4:7) – the very opposite attitude to those who “weary themselves for nothing”. Let us all heed Peter’s words, living with a sense of purpose in our hearts “by the strength that God supplies – in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (verse 11).